Italian Interior Minister and Deputy PM Matteo Salvini. Photo: AFP / Tiziana Fabi

Italian Deputy Prime Minister and League (Lega) Party head Matteo Salvini strongly opposes giving Chinese conglomerates such as Huawei Technologies access to the country’s telecommunications infrastructure, he said on Friday.

Speaking during a news conference at the Foreign Press Association of Milan, Salvini said he opposed granting Chinese companies market access to areas of national security such as the country’s communications network. His comments were in stark contrast to the seemingly pro-China sympathies of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Salvini’s coalition partner, the Five Star Movement led by fellow Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio.

Salvini made the comments after US President Donald Trump placed Huawei on a federal government blacklist, while the US Justice Department seeks the extradition of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou from Canada on charges of violating Washington’s Iran sanctions.

Salvini, who also serves as interior minister, could in effect block Huawei from building out a fifth-generation (5G) telecom network for reasons of national security.

Salvini, who is in the midst of campaigning for European Parliament elections on May 26, is purposely raising issues that directly put his center-right populist Lega in direct conflict with the radical left Five Star Movement co-founded by Italian comedian Beppe Grillo.

In comments to Milan-based foreign financial journalists, Salvini was clearly taking aim at both Conte and his coalition rival, Di Maio, for making Italy the first G7 economic power to sign a memorandum of understanding to participate in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

White House sources said Trump became highly alarmed that Conte would commit Italy – the world’s fifth-largest economy and America’s most strategic NATO partner – as a full-fledged partner of China’s multitrillion-dollar infrastructure program.

“China uses the BRI as a tool to threaten areas of US strategic interest, be it Djibouti or Sicily,” a US official said.

In fact, there are growing concerns in Washington regarding Chinese investment in strategic Italian ports such as Trieste and Genoa.

Answering a question on Italy’s commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Salvini said Lega, unlike Five Star, was loyal to the NATO alliance.

“We are faithfully loyal to the Atlantic alliance, that someone [Five Star] has put into debate, but not us [Lega],” Salvini said.

Salvini also took issue with Five Star’s move to defund Italian defense spending, such as severely cutting back on purchases of Lockheed Martin-manufactured F-35 fighter jets.

“Others put into question the F-35, we do not. About disarming [our military], this is not useful – it would be economic suicide – and the defense sector is strategic for the next 50 years,” he said, adding, “A disarmed country is an occupied country and [at risk] of being occupied. We have a different position [from] that of M5S.”

Salvini also opened the door to Italy invoking Article 5 of the NATO treaty, the clause that forces all NATO members to come to the defense of a fellow member, in regards to the worsening situation in Libya.

Not only does Libya pose a direct threat to Italy from terrorist cells based in the North African nation but any attack on the Greenstream gas pipeline operated by Italian oil company Eni connecting the Mellitah complex in Libya to Gela, Sicily, could very well push Italy back into recession.

However, Salvini said military intervention in Libya “is the last option.”

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world's first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now. 

Join the Conversation

31 Comments

  1. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?
    Plz respond as I’m looking to design my own blog and would
    like to know where u got this from. thank you

  2. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I in finding this matter to be actually something that I think I
    might by no means understand. It sort of feels too complicated and very broad for me.
    I am looking ahead for your subsequent post, I will attempt to get the grasp of
    it!

  3. Good day! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group?
    There’s a lot of people that I think would really
    appreciate your content. Please let me know. Thank you

  4. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was curious what all is required to get setup?
    I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost
    a pretty penny? I’m not very web smart so I’m not 100% positive.
    Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Many thanks

  5. First of all I would like to say superb blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind.
    I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing.
    I have had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out.

    I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be wasted
    simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips?

    Thank you!

  6. I’m really enjoying the theme/design of your website. Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility problems?
    A number of my blog audience have complained about my site not operating correctly
    in Explorer but looks great in Opera. Do you have any recommendations to help fix this issue?

  7. I am curious to find out what blog platform you’re utilizing?
    I’m experiencing some minor security problems with my latest website and I would like to find something more safeguarded.
    Do you have any suggestions?

  8. Howdy! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading this post reminds me of my good old
    room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this
    post to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  9. This is very interesting, You are a very skilled blogger.
    I’ve joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your wonderful post.

    Also, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *